Kyler Murray, NFC Rout Deshaun Watson, AFC in Madden 2021 NFL Pro Bowl

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2021

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) prior to an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The NFC came away with a 32-12 win over the AFCΒ in the 2021 Pro Bowl on Sunday in what was perhaps the most unique edition of the annual showcase.

The NFL announced in October it was canceling the Pro Bowl game itself amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the event would be reimagined and played on Madden NFL 21 using the respective Pro Bowl rosters.

Each conference also had a prominent name take charge of the team for each quarter. Deshaun Watson, Keyshawn Johnson, Derrick Henry and Snoop Dogg represented the AFC, with Kyler Murray, Bubba Wallace, Jamal Adams and Marshawn Lynch guiding the NFC.

Murray was crowned the MVP, at times assuming the dual roles of player and coach for the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals @AZCardinals

.@K1 out here calling plays for @BubbaWallace. Watch Live: https://t.co/dnYzaa5zPN https://t.co/kPEtOPMZN2

Things unraveled for the AFC in the second quarter when Johnson opposed Wallace.

Johnson is a three-time Pro Bowler and was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won a Super Bowl in 2002. His skills on the physical gridiron didn't translate to the virtual gridiron, though.


OH NO, @KEYSHAWN! 😭 #ProBowl WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/riFQzMVuwf https://t.co/6bBg08JYZt

Ninja @Ninja

Someone do an investigation on @keyshawn because it looked like he was throwing for the NFC in that 2nd quarter $$$ @SnoopDogg @MoneyLynch 😭😭

Wallace, meanwhile, was scoring at will with the NFC:


.@BubbaWallace is heating up! πŸ”₯ He finds @dkm14 in the end zone on fourth down! #ProBowl: Madden 21 Edition presented by Verizon https://t.co/riFQzNd5UP


This isn't @BubbaWallace's first time playing @EAMaddenNFL πŸ˜‚ @dalvincook scores again and the NFC extend their lead! #ProBowl: Madden 21 Edition presented by Verizon https://t.co/riFQzNd5UP

By the time Johnson handed the sticks over to Henry, the AFC was sitting in a 26-6 hole. With the quarters limited to only five minutes, that kind of halftime deficit effectively ended the contest.

Things didn't improve for the AFC under Henry's stewardship in the third quarter. Running a no-huddle offense, Adams hit Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson on the same post route for four straight plays en route to a touchdown.


They ran the same play four times in a row πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ @Prez #ProBowl WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/riFQzMVuwf https://t.co/vcFlXcLrk0

Charles James II @CJDeuce_

Bro @Prez threw it to the Tight end 4x in a row and scored I’m crying πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Kris Jenkins @Smoove2you_

Jamal Adams ran the same play πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Adams also subbed himself into the game in the place of Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and notched a pair of interceptions.

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Jamal had to call timeout so he could put himself into the game πŸ˜‚ @Prez @EAMaddenNFL #ProBowl WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/HbitOHESZG https://t.co/xix3uJyrxj

Joe @JoeRiveraSN

UPDATE: Jamal Adams interceptions in Madden '21 Pro Bowl: 2 Jamal Adams interceptions in 58 NFL games: 2 https://t.co/BZp1i2dkYG

The Pro Bowl will presumably resume its usual festivities in 2022 if the pandemic has slowed enough to allow for large in-person gatherings.

The NFL reinvigorated the buildup to the game by creating the Skills Showdown. The league may have stumbled into what should be another regular feature with Sunday's Madden encounter.

If the Madden Pro Bowl is brought back for next year, the AFC may not extend another invite to Johnson, though.